Quick and easy baking – Banana bread


I have tried many recipes of banana breads, but this one is the best.
It is from the “Plenty More” cooking book for Yotam Ottolenghi, a bible that I am sure many of you have at home. It is easy and quick to make and is a great breakfast or snack.

I just changed a couple of things, I usually use less sugar than given in the recipes, I used Olive oil as a vegetable oil, added spices and used less flour but added wheat germs to the preparation.

The texture is light and moist, it’s really delicious.

Pre-heat your fan oven on 170c°

1- In a Kitchen Aid or bowl mix
2 handfuls of organic almonds previously roasted in the oven.
3 large ripe bananas mashed.
200g brown sugar.
3 eggs.
1/2 a tsp nutmeg, cinnamon, lime leaves powders.
1 tsp vanilla powder.

2- Add
140ml milk.
70g olive oil.

3- Then add
255g flour.
20g wheat germs.
6g baking powder.

Mix well and pour the preparation into a cake form with baking paper.

Bake for 40 min on 170c° and approx. 25 min on 150c°. Check with a knife if the middle of the bread comes out dry. It’s ready. Enjoy!

Quick and easy baking – Banana bread

Lemon Meringue Tart

First of all, Happy 2012 everybody! Hope you had a nice holiday, and if this year has been said to be the last one, then enjoy it as much as you can….. on these words of wisdom… start it with a sweet tingly tooth.
This tart has become one of my favorite ones, for it is not too sweet and has a slight tingly taste.
I made it, among other things, for New Year’s Eve and even though most of the family members do not like lemon meringue tart, they all loved this one.

Make the dough:

188gr Flour (T55)
112gr  Unsalted butter
75gr    Icing sugar
15gr    Almond powder
38gr   Eggs (scrambled)
Pinch of salt
20 cm tart ring

With your hands “sand” together the flour, butter, icing sugar, salt and almond powder.
Once you don’t have chunks of butter left in the mass, add the eggs and mix well until you can form a ball.
Wrap with a cling film and set aside in the fridge for 30min.
After 30 min, take it out of the fridge and spread it in the form or ring. Because it is harder it is also easier to use in the tart ring.
Bake on 150°C for 20 min. Set aside.

Make the cream:

125gr Lemons, grated and the juice  (around 2,5 lemons)
125gr Sugar
135gr Egg yolks (8 egg yolks)
3gr     Gelatin
100gr Butter

Pour the lemon juice and zests in a pan, bring to a simmer.
In a bowl whip the eggs and sugar until they turn into a white, creamy texture.
Once the lemon juice has simmered, pour a third of the liquid into the sugar/eggs mixture, mix well.
Then pour this preparation into the rest of the lemon juice in the pan. Bring to a boil so that it thickens a bit.
Once it has boiled, put aside in a bowl and add the gelatin.
Mix well until it cools down to 35°C (or once you can touch the preparation with your finger, it should be lukewarm).
Add the butter and mix well.
Pour the custard in the dough and place in the fridge.

Make the Italian meringue:

This meringue requires more attention with the temperatures than the french one. You add a syrup to the egg whites. I would recommend you use a thermometer if you are not a pro at knowing when the syrup has reached which T° just by looking at the bubbles.

125gr Egg whites (5-6 eggs)
250gr Sugar
90gr Water

Make the syrup: water and sugar in the pan on the stove.
Pour the egg whites in your Kitchen Aid or bowl (not plastic, it gets hot) and use a whisk.
Watch the T° of the syrup: once it reaches
110c° – start the KA or the blender on medium speed.
118c° –  turn on the blender’s to maximum speed.
121c°  – stop the syrup and pour it slowly in the white eggs on the edge of the bowl. Whip until it gets cool /room T°. Don’t stop whisking or the meringue will “fall”.

Once it is cool, you can either put the meringue in a piping bag using a nozzle (size 10) or use a spatula or spoon to spread the meringue onto the tart.
Cool the pie in the fridge and when ready to serve, slightly put under the grill until it gets brownish or use a torch to darken it.

If you don’t have a thermometer, follow a french meringue recipe:

125gr Egg whites (around 6 eggs)
250gr Sugar

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric whisk until they form stiff peaks. Whisk in the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time, whisking well and at a high speed between each addition. Transfer the meringue into a piping bag (with a plain nozzle, or not) and pipe the meringue on top of the lemon curd.

Place the cooled dough into the ring. A way to cut the borders is to roll the baking roll on the top of the ring and finish with a knife. I’ll write a next post about that.

Put the gelatin in the custard while hot.

Bring the syrup to a boil and pour it into the egg whites, which are in the bowl. Pour it on the edge of the
bowl to avoid burning yourself if it lands in the whisk.

The meringue should be shiny and creamy.

If you decide to decorate the tart using the piping bag, cover the tart with meringue first and cool it in the freezer for 5 min so that it sticks to the custard and you have a nice layer to work on. It also hides the yellow custard, looks nicer.

The pattern on the left was made with a spatula and put under the grill. On the right with the piping bag
and using a torch.

Lemon Meringue Tart

My chocolate mousse cake

This has been my signature cake for a few years now.

The trick is not to bake it too long so that it stays fluffy and doesn’t become dry.
It’s not too sweet either like many other chocolate cakes, so you can have it as it is or with a crème anglaise (vanilla cream/custard), à la mode (with vanilla ice cream), or with a scoop of crème fraîche, which is also very good and contrasts well with the bitterness of the dark chocolate. I enjoyed it on its own with a cup of coffee.

Gâteau au chocolat

300g chocolate (I used Lindt 85% 150g -70% 150g)
1 espresso
150g butter
100g sugar
4 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
50g flour
18cm spring-form tin, greased

1. In water-bath melt the butter, chocolate and the espresso.
Notes: Make sure the heat is not too high, otherwise the ingredients will separate and you get a grainy texture. Prefer a low-medium heat. Keep stirring to get a smooth texture. (If the texture does separate, use a hand mixer).


2. Let the chocolate cool and add the sugar.
Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Add the egg yolks one by one, stir well.
Add the flour.

5. In a cool bowl (put in the fridge or freezer for 15 min) whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Add them to the chocolate mixture in 3 times and gently fold in.

6. Place the dough in a round 18 cm spring-form tin.
Bake 25-30min on 150 c°. It should be crunchy on top and soft in the middle.

8. Let cool and sprinkle dark chocolate powder for decoration.

My chocolate mousse cake

NY Cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping

My interest for American baking has been vivid ever since I spent year there in the 90’s.
One of my favorite dessert is the NY Cheesecake, differing from other cheesecakes by the cream-cheese based filling and the sour cream topping. I have been looking for a recipe for a while, and letting my mouth watering in front of numerous sites and cooking books, I finally did it. I combined 2 recipes – one from the BBC and from this blog. I will skip the sour cream topping and replace it with a chocolate ganache.

The crust:

184g butter cookies (30 Leibnitz or petit beurre)
100g butter
pinch of salt

The Filling:

450g cream cheese Philadelphia (1 ½ regular, 1 light)
85g sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
140g sour cream
1 ½ tbsp flour

Chocolate Ganache:

100g dark chocolate (here 70% Callebaut)
100g low fat single cream
10g butter

Make the cake

1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to fan 180C°. Line the base of a 20cm spring form cake tin with parchment paper.
For the crust, melt the butter in a medium pan. Stir in the biscuit crumbs so the mixture is evenly moistened. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan and bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
2. For the filling, increase the oven temperature to fan 200C. Beat the soft cheese at medium-low speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the sugar, then the flour and a pinch of salt.
3. Continue by adding the vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and yolk, one at a time. Stir the 140ml sour cream until smooth. Continue on low speed as you add the soured cream. Whisk to blend, but don’t over-beat. The batter should be smooth, light and somewhat airy.
4. Brush the sides of the spring form tin with melted butter and put on a baking sheet. Pour in the filling – if there are any lumps, sink them using a knife – the top should be as smooth as possible. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to fan 90C bake for 25 minutes more. If you gently shake the tin, the filling should have a slight wobble. Turn off the oven and open the oven door for a cheesecake that’s creamy in the centre, or leave it closed if you prefer a drier texture. Let cool in the oven for 2 hours. The cheesecake may get a slight crack on top as it cools.

Notes: As I wasn’t sure weather the cake was ready or not as the wobbling was more than slight, I left it in the oven with slightly opened door for around 15-20min. Slightly wobbly it is now.

Make the ganache

1. In a water-bath, melt the chocolate.
2. In a pan bring the cream to a boil.
3. Pour the cream on to the chocolate and mix well.
4. Add the butter cut in cubes and mix.
9. Let the ganache cool before spreading it on the cheesecake.

NY Cheesecake with a chocolate ganache topping